Cleaning Vinyl Siding

Mildew growth on light colored vinyl siding.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Garden hose with adjustable nozzle
Laundry soap or dish soap
Hand-held sprayer
Soft scrub brush with long handle
Ladder (optional)
Oxygen bleach or vinegar for mildew and mold (optional)

Everything from dirty hands to bad storms will eventually cause the vinyl siding around your home to look dingy. Cleaning it is important because the collected dirt, debris, and plant residue will encourage mold and mildew growth over time. Follow these instructions for removing debris and mold so that your vinyl siding looks like new again.

Note: This method works best for single-story homes. If your home has more than one level, consider other options for reaching the rest of your siding.

Step 1 - Prepare Vinyl Siding for Washing

Prep the siding for washing by covering all outdoor electric outlets and light fixtures with plastic. You will need to protect them from water so be sure to use plenty of tape to secure the coverings. Move any outdoor furniture away from the exterior of the home so that you can easily move around to reach every part of the siding.

Remember that using chlorinated bleach or harsh cleaners can kill any vegetation around the outside of your home, so try to avoid these types of cleaners. If you are unsure about the effect your cleaners will have on vegetation, cover bushes with plastic sheeting to be safe. Don’t forget to remove the sheeting immediately after washing so that you do not harm them.

Mold and mildew may require a harsher cleaner than dish soap. Oxygen bleach or vinegar is better on the environment than chlorinated bleach and stronger on mold than dish or laundry soap.

Step 2 - Soak the Walls

Attach an adjustable nozzle to your garden hose and use a gentle mist to rinse the vinyl. Using too much pressure can cause water to get under the vinyl between the joints, damaging the wood underneath. Vinyl siding is designed for rain to fall on it from the sky, so hold the hose down onto the siding to lower the risk of water getting through.

Step 3 - Spray with Soap Solution

Fill a handheld garden sprayer with a solution of about 1/4-cup dish soap to one gallon of water and turn the hose to spray a small section of your siding. Working in small sections will make sure that the sun doesn’t dry the soapy water to the vinyl before you get a chance to scrub or rinse.

Dampen your scrub brush with water and, starting at the bottom, scrub from side to side until you get to the top. Using a long-handled brush may be enough to reach to the roof. If not, use a ladder. Rinse from the top down and then move on to the next section until is completed.

Step 4 - Treat Mold and Mildew

You can check for mold and mildew by placing a drop of chlorinated bleach onto the suspicious area. If the spot turns white, then the dirty area is moldy. If it stays the same color, it is just dirt and can be scrubbed off normally. Additionally, if there is gunk on your vinyl siding after scrubbing with soap and water, most likely it is mold or mildew. This can be treated with an environmentally-friendly product like oxygen bleach or a vinegar-water solution. If using chlorinated bleach, keep small pets away and do your best not to allow it to drip onto vegetation.

A good, hardcore cleaning of your vinyl siding will do it a lot of good. However, this doesn’t need to be done all the time. If you regularly do a light scrubbing with soap and water, you should be able to keep your siding free of any harsh debris or mold. Making sure this task becomes part of your regular chore schedule can save you a lot of trouble over time.